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US Nuclear device (bomb) test ‘Priscilla’ 24 June 1957. Test Height and Type: 700 Foot Balloon with a yield of Yield: 37 kt. Weapon Explosion .

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Don’t just whine! Realign!

Time for the Central Divisions to be blown up

Best future for AAAL Central?
| Universal History Archive/Getty Images

You don’t need any more input on how historically awful the AAAL Central Division is, but what the heck, let’s pile on for just a moment.

There have only been two MLB division winners who finished a 162-game season with only 82 wins. Those were the 2005 Padres, who actually ended the year 82-83 after being swept in the first playoff round, and the 1973 Mets, 82-79 plus winning a round. So the Twins, one game better than .500 after Tuesday’s games, are in line for worst winner.

That doesn’t tell the full tale, though, because the full divisions for those teams were much better. The 2005 NL West had an overall .459 winning percentage, and the 1973 NL East a very respectable .483, with five of the six teams within five games of first. Contrast that with the 2023 AAAL Central, and its pitiful .426.

The whole division should be relegated, with a minor league group moved up, but, alas, that’s not how things work on this side of the Atlantic.

Still, unless in the interest of the integrity of baseball investigators discover a secret paper somewhere (Mar-a-Lago?) that proclaims no team with a losing record can go to the playoffs, there’s a real chance of a team ending atop the division with, say, a 78-84 record will bump an actually deserving team out of the postseason. That’s unless in the spirit of sportsmanship the team in question admits it doesn’t deserve to make the playoffs and cedes its spot — which will happen right after dinosaurs are spotted in Grant Park.

And, of course, the AAAL Central has been terrible for many years, as has been its National League counterpart — witness that together they got seven teams into the playoffs in 2020, when they only played each other, then went 2-14 when they had to face someone else.

But enough of piling on, let’s solve the problem.


Both leagues could benefit from clearing out their Central Divisions, but this is a White Sox blog, so we’ll demonstrate with the AL.

It’s certainly possible to do a semi-permanent realignment that would be much more fair at first ... but that could just mean the same problem arising at some future point with one division or another. Instead, let’s got for a permanent solution by making temporary changes.

Envision, if you will, annual realignment based on the standings at the end of the year that just ended. You then take those standings and create pairings, as is done in seeding for tournaments, highest with lowest, second highest with second lowest, etc.

Had the 2023 season ended Tuesday, you would end up with pairings of:

Orioles/White Sox
Blue Jays/Twins
with Red Sox in the middle

Then you’d take each of those lines and place them in a division. Geography would go out the window, but that’s why God invented airplanes.

You’d probably have to drop East/Central/West for colors or cutesy nicknames, and you’d end up with the three divisions of:

KOALA: Rays, A’s, Astros, Tigers, Angels
PANDA: Rangers, Royals, Yankees, Guardians, Mariners
TEDDY: Orioles, White Sox, Blue Jays, Twins, Red Sox

Doesn’t work as hoped? Never fear, things will change again the following year, depending on the season results.

That realignment would end up ruining Rick Hahn’s dream of making the playoffs without ever actually having to be good, but it would greatly increase fairness, give another incentive for playing well, and probably hype fan interest. It should be teamed with a schedule more evenly balanced than this year’s; say the same 46 interleague games, seven or eight vs. non-division, same-league teams, and 10 each against division rivals.

Problem solved. Not helpful to the White Sox, but a lot more fair to all.


Reasonable question.

Each league would presumably get one expansion team, leading to either two divisions of eight teams each or four divisions with four teams each. It’s a reasonable assumption MLB would want as many division races as possible, so let’s go with 4x4.

For purposes of illustration, let’s assume the expansion team in the American League is in Portland. Then let’s call the A’s, wherever they might be playing, and the entire AAAL Central the equivalent of expansion teams, and spread them out as much as feasible, again without much geographical consideration.

You might then start with:

WAY WEST: Portland, Mariners, Angels, A’s

KINDA NORTH: Blue Jays, Red Sox, Tigers, Twins

BIG STRETCH FROM EAST TO SOUTHWEST: Yankees, Orioles, Rangers, Royals

MIDWEST PLUNGING DOWN: Rays, Astros, Guardians, White Sox

That’s not perfect balance, but it’s just for the first year, of course, with the system used for 15 teams then put into effect for 16 each season.


And you thought bloggers were only good for complaining and bad puns.

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